So far, so good

Robert Smith

CLEMSON - Robert Smith had four years of conditioning to work off when he arrived to Clemson from Woodland High School Smith.

Smith, of course, was the No. 72 safety in the class of 2011, according to Scout.com after throwing for 8,226 yards and 86 touchdowns in his high school career.

In May, during his first skills and drills workout at Clemson, he was still thinking about lining up on the offensive side of the ball.

"They were like, offense over here and defense over there. I walked 10 steps towards offense and was like, I'm on defense," Smith said. "It was a little bit of an adjustment. When you're an athlete, you can get used to playing anything. Once I got accustomed to it, I was good."

Safety is the new position, and he was good enough to avoid a redshirt this season.

Though learning it is no easy task, Smith has picked up enough of the system that's in year three under coordinator Kevin Steele.

"It was pretty complex," Smith said. "They drill it in you, so you have no choice but to get it. First, you're going to be stressed, and like, I don't even know if I can play football at this level.

"Once you get it, it's good. It really helps you out, because it's a NFL defense. It'll prepare you for the future."

So far, the present has been pretty good. In seven snaps against Troy last weekend, Smith had two tackles and an interception.

"When I dove for it, once I knew I had [the interception], it was a feeling that I could never explain," he said.

Smith enjoys the luxury of learning the position from veterans like Rashard Hall and Jonathan Meeks.

Not long after he came to Clemson, Smith was pulled to the side by Hall and Meeks.

"Both of them, through every practice, every skills and drill, every weight lifting workout, they've always been on top of me. I think that's why I kept getting motivated," Smith said. "Especially Rashard, I feel like Rashard was the leader. I just look up to him and everything he does. He always goes hard. He and Meeks, you can see they have that bond together. I was saying I want to be like them.

"Rashard, he just graduated from college and he's got another year of eligibility. I was like, I want to do things like them."

With Hall likely out this week against Wofford with a knee injury, Smith could have that opportunity.

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